Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Garden Mural Project, Lesson 4: Insects: Butterflies and Metamorphosis

Lesson 4: Insects: Butterflies and Metamorphosis

Note: On day 12 there is an option to obtain a butterfly raising kit or bring home caterpillars to raise to adulthood. You will want to do this in advance and you can begin day 12's activities whenever you receive the kit.

Day 1: Explain that every insect begins life as an egg. The growth time from egg to adult may vary from a few days to 17 years! Most insects follow one of three patterns of growth and development: simple growth and development, incomplete metamorphosis and complete metamorphosis. Have resources for your student about insect life cycles. (Exploring Creation with Zoology I, by Jeannie Fulbright, chapter 10 is one such resource, or you may find books at the library.) Simple Growth and Development: Show pictures of a Silverfish and Springtail in the field guide. These are wingless insects and they grow and develop in three stages: 1. an adult lays an egg, 2. it hatches and looks like a small adult, 3, it's looks don't change as it grows and molts and it reaches adulthood with almost no change. Look for these insects in your nature walks.
Day 2: Incomplete Metamorphosis: Look up grasshoppers, mayflies, roaches, damselflies, dragonflies or cicadas. They go through an incomplete metamorphosis: 1. An adult lays an egg, 2. A nymph that hatches from the egg looks much like the adult but wingless, 3. The adult comes of to the last most with wings. Look for these insects in their various stages on your nature walks.
Day 3: Look at pictures of butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, bees, wasps or ants. These insects grown and develop in a complete metamorphosis: 1. An adult insect lays an egg, 2. A larva hatches that looks completely different from the adult, 3. After the larva is grown, it turns into a pupa. 4. The winged adult emerges from the pupa. It appears completely different from earlier stages. Make butterflies from construction paper.

Day 4: Find resources, read about the Order Lepidoptera and discuss what is learned. (Exploring Creation with Zoology I, by Jeannie Fulbright, chapter 14 is one such resource, or you may find books at the library.)

Day 5: On this week's nature walk, look for moths and butterflies. Begin making your own Insect Field Guide, like the DIY Bird Field guide at the Handbook of Nature Study's Outdoor Hour Challenge #7.

Day 6: Have your students glue eggs (navy beans) to leaves of the paper flower he has made to represent the adult butterfly laying eggs on the leaves.

Day 7: The larva of butterflies are called caterpillars (larvae of flies are called maggots, larvae of beetles are called grubs, larvae of mosquitoes are called wigglers, etc.) Make caterpillars from construction paper. 

Day 8: The pupa of a butterfly is called a chrysalis. Make an oval pocket to represent the chrysalis by folding a piece of tan construction paper in half and cutting it into an oval shape and then sealing it, leaving an opening so that you can slip the butterflies the students have made into the chrysalis. Have your student sponge paint to add texture. 

Day 9: 
While your student isn't looking, slip their butterflies into the chrysalis pockets and tape them shut. Let your student help the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis.
    Butterfly Metamorphosis
Day 10: On a paper plate or piece of paper, have your student draw the arrows of the butterfly's life cycle, leaving a space for the four states between the arrows. Have your student glue dried beans to the plate for the eggs, spiral pasta for the larva, shell pasta for the pupa and bow tie pasta for the adult butterfly. Add leaves, a branch and paint to finish.

Day 11: On this week's nature walk, bring along a magnifying glass to look at the insects. You may want to follow the guidelines outlined at the Handbook of Nature Study's Outdoor Hour Challenge #8, Up Close and Personal.

Day 12: (Optional) Obtain a butterfly raising kit or bring home caterpillars to raise to adulthood. Make sure you know and have access to a supply of the caterpillar's chosen food. If you decide to do this, have your student keep note of observations in his science journal. Entries should be kept most days, noting changes that occur as the larva changes into the chrysalis and then into an adult butterfly. Tell him to draw pictures and record color, shape, size, texture and position of each stage. Encourage him to ask questions.

Day 13: Hungry butterflies go right to the flowers to gather nectar. Have your students drink nectar (juice) with probiscus (straws.)

Day 14: Learn how butterflies avoid predators. We learned that many butterflies have large circles of color on their wings called "eye spots." They are called that because they look like eyes of a large creature, like an owl, to a bird who might otherwise be a predator to the butterfly. This scares the birds away. Have your student add colored circles to his paper butterfly.

Day 15: Compare butterflies and moths. Make a Venn diagram in his science journal. (Butterflies fly during the day, have knobs at the end of their antennae, have thin, hairless bodies, rest with their wings held upright, etc. Moths fly at night, their antennae are not knobbed, have, plump, furry bodies and rest with their wings spread, etc.)

Day 16: For this week's nature walk, have your student rope off a small square of his backyard to observe what insects can be found in that area. You can use the guidelines Handbook of Nature Study's Outdoor Hour Challenge #9, One Small Square.


  1. I really need to have my kids spend some time with a square foot observation. It's such a great idea.


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